Mitchell heads into new ASBK season as early favourite
MOTORSPORT: For the first time in his relatively short Australian Superbike career, Luke Mitchell will step onto the Phillip Island tarmac this weekend as favourite to take out the supersport title.
The James Creek rider finished a dominant year on the track in third position in 2016 and with a full racing preparation under his belt and a fully fledged racing team getting behind him in 2017 he is expected to rise to the top this year.
But despite the opinion of domestic racing experts, the 20-year-old speedster is not seeing this weekend's season opener in Victoria any different to how he saw it last year.
"It is definitely a weird feeling coming in with all eyes on me,” he said. "But there is no added pressure. I am just treating it with a grain of salt.”
It will be his first season under the DPH Racing Team and already he has seen a change with the team truck travelling to Phillip Island with the Mitchell family.
"The truck is bigger than the factory Yamaha track,” he said. "So far we have definitely turned a few heads.
"It makes the other blokes think and makes them talk. It doesn't matter to me, it just makes them focus less on the task at hand.
"At the end of the day it is still mum and dad at the track, Marty (Dowd, mechanic) working on my bikes and me still riding them. This doesn't change from what we have been doing for years.”
Mitchell finished third last season and with the two riders above him Sam Clarke and Troy Geunther moving on from the Supersport class in 2017, he becomes the most experienced rider this year.
But with a new class of young contenders, led by Repsol Gas Racing's Mark Chiodo and Next Gen Motorsports' Ted Collins, nipping at his heels Mitchell will need to be ready.
"(Chiodo) went faster than me at training the other day so I know this is not a given,” he said. "A lot of the young guys like to go hard early on, I will be throwing the tow rope out and falling right in behind them.”